After the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last year, it looked like abortion numbers would soon plummet across the country. But new estimates suggest that is not the case. The number of legal abortions has remained stable, if not increased, across the country since 2020, our colleagues Amy Schoenfeld Walker and Allison McCann reported today.
How is it possible? New data from the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization specializing in reproductive health, suggests that more people are crossing state lines or using telemedicine to abort, including using abortion pills. The increase in the use of these options offset the decrease in abortions resulting from the new state bans, Amy and Allison found.
This map tells the story. As you can see, states bordering those with bans largely saw the number of abortions increase in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2020. In Illinois, for example, estimated abortions increased by 69%.
On the contrary, Guttmacher’s data underestimates the number of abortions. It does not take into account abortions obtained outside the formal healthcare system, including those performed with pills acquired through community support networks or websites based outside of the United States. And it doesn’t include counts from banned states, though there are few to no reported abortions in those states.
Overall, the data suggests that there are the same number of abortions, if not more, in the United States today than before the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Dobbs v. Jackson. Women’s Health Organization.
For abortion rights advocates, the result is mixed. Not everyone can afford to travel across state lines or access telemedicine. It is therefore likely that some people wishing to have an abortion still cannot do so. And even though the overall figure is up, abortions were on the rise before the Supreme Court ruling. “They might have continued to rise even more sharply than what’s been seen without the bans,” Caitlin Myers, an economist at Middlebury College, told Amy and Allison.
What does the data say about the impact of the Dobbs decision? Guttmacher and Myers warn it’s too early to draw firm conclusions, noting the possibility of future restrictions. But the immediate impact on the total number of abortions was less than many abortion rights advocates feared. And for anti-abortion groups, that data could be an argument for new limits on access, including a nationwide ban.
Human-sized hamster wheel: A man tried to cross the Atlantic while rolling. He was arrested by the Coast Guard.
Burning Man: Festival cleanup is a big job, especially when the trash is stuck in the hardened mud.
The first lady of fitness: At 97, Elaine LaLanne is still shaping the industry.
At first: A lonely old building on a hill in New Jersey, where we first heard the buzz of the Big Bang.
Lives Lived: Ferid Murad’s research into the effects of nitric oxide on the body advanced the treatment of hypertension and erectile dysfunction, earning him a Nobel Prize. He died at age 86.
Madison Keys: The American won her US Open match in straight sets to reach the semi-final.
NFL: The season opens tonight with a game between the Lions and the reigning Super Bowl champions Chiefs.
ARTS AND IDEAS
A return to classic rock: The Rolling Stones announced a new album yesterday, their first record of new material in 18 years. “Hackney Diamonds”, named after a London neighborhood and slang for shards of glass left behind after a burglary, will be released on October 20. It’s also the band’s first album since the death of longtime drummer Charlie Watts in 2021.
So far, the UK press has released positive reviews: the first taste of the album is an “absolute blast”, writes The Telegraph. “This is the Rolling Stones’ best album since 1978,” said The Times of London.
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